Chloe Lewis

An interview with The Amazons

What better time to catch up with The Amazons frontman and self-declared animal expert Matt than just before their headline gig at the Buyers Club? We chatted to him about tigers, mostly…

Chloe for Ellipsis: So, you guys are going on tour very soon…

Matt from The Amazons: Yeah, we’re really looking forward to it, it’s the first time we’ve played in the UK this year. We’ve just come off a European tour, and we’ve been doing bits and bobs, little showcase festivals in Sweden and the Netherlands in January, so it’s going to be weird coming back to the UK and talking in between songs when people can actually understand you!

Where was your favourite place to play in Europe?

It was all great – playing in Vienna was really cool, but more because the city was really good. The show was okay too, but I think in terms of numbers of people we’ve had a lot of radio play in the Netherlands, by this radio station called 3FM, which is their equivalent of Radio One, and for some reason they’ve been smashing the last two singles, so to arrive at the Netherlands, where we had these two shows in Rotterdam and Amsterdam completely sold out, that was amazing. That was a really weird and amazing experience. We’ve sold out some shows in the UK but this was a whole different ball game, selling them out in a completely different country – it was crazy. But then there were some shows in Germany, Munich and Berlin, where there weren’t as many people but they were like 10 times more engaged, singing the words and all that kind of stuff,  so there was good experiences in different ways, really. But yeah, it was fun!

And you’ll be heading back to Europe with You Me At Six next month too…

Yeah, after the UK tour in March for two weeks, I think we have a Saturday and Sunday off and then we’re heading back over there for a couple of weeks with You Me At Six. It’ll be bigger venues, so it’ll be a really different feel. It always is different with support slots compared to headline slots; it’s a completely different ball game. It’ll actually be less pressure to sell tickets, so I think we’ll really enjoy it.

You’ve been getting a lot of attention on Radio One recently, how has that been?

It’s been good, man! When you start a band you always hope, like, ‘imagine if we’re on Radio One, that’ll be amazing’, but until it happens you don’t ever really know what it feels like. It’s great, especially at this time where, I don’t think there’s a lot of guitar music on the airwaves. It feels good, it feels like it stands out, so we’re really happy. This is a big year for us, we’re putting out an album in the summer, so to get support from people like Greg James feels great, and it gives you confidence in what you’re doing, basically.

An album out in the summer, that’s exciting!

Yeah, I think we’re going to announce specifics in the next couple of months. It’ll be out just in time for the festivals; we wanna hit all these festivals that we’re doing with an album to push, that’s the main thing.

What festivals are you doing?

Reading and Leeds, Isle of Wight, we’re doing Liverpool Sound City as well! On the Saturday… Or the Sunday… I think it’s the Sunday? Anyway, we’re really looking forward to that! And we’ve got a lot of European festivals as well, we’re going back to the Netherlands to do some festivals. We’re basically going to go all over the place, which we’re really excited about, rather than just the UK, which we’ve been doing for the last couple of years.

How would you describe your sound?

Good question! I think it’s difficult because we’re so close to the band that it’s like ‘how do you describe yourself?’ You know when you’re writing a personal statement or a CV, it’s like you almost need someone else to come in and help you out. I think we love rock and roll that’s kind of visceral, and anthemic, and that has an emotional urgency, and if that’s the kind of music that we make then we’re achieving what we want to achieve – music that’s exciting and powerful, and the kind of music that makes you want to scream your lungs out when you go to the gigs, and get sweaty with strangers, and have this communal feel. That’s the kind of music that I’d like to think that we make, at least.

Do you have any specific influences?

I think ‘influences’ is kind of fluid. We’re music people, we love music full stop, so I was listening to Childish Gambino last night, then I’ve been listening to a band called The Kills all of today, and all this stuff leaks in where you wouldn’t really expect it to leak in. It’s kind of subconscious, you don’t sit down and think ‘right, I want to write like The Kills’, or anything like that, you sit down and you write and a little bit of that comes out, and retrospectively you listen to it and think ‘oh yeah, I was listening to Queens Of The Stone Age at that time’. But I think collectively, the bands that we love are bands like Queens Of The Stone Age, and Rage Against The Machine, and Nirvana, and Foo Fighters, and those rock bands that really got us excited when we first picked up guitars and instruments and started playing drums and all that stuff. I think we’ve kind of come back to listening to that kind of music, I think there’s probably a bit of a gap in the mainstream for that sort of stuff, but the power of Spotify means you can have all that stuff at the tip of your fingers all the time. We’ve been revisiting a lot of the old stuff recently.

Would you say there’s a gap in the market for you guys’ music right now?

In terms of chart-wise, there’s plenty of bands out there at the moment, but rock and roll’s a bit of a niche; it’s underground at the moment, which is fine, because it is what it is. It’s not for us to decide whether we’re in the charts or not, we’ve just got to focus on the music that we make, whether it moves us or not, whether we’re excited by it. You put it out and then people connect with it or they don’t, that’s not for us to decide. Listening to the charts, the top ten and stuff, it feels a bit soulless, it feels a bit like they’ve got a committee of writers. This stuff happens, they have a committee of writers and they get briefs, they get like, folders of the target audiences, and I think, how can you write from the heart, how can you express yourself when you’re writing to a brief? No disrespect to that kind of thing, it’s a business, but I think the beauty of rock and roll, and why people gravitate towards it, and alternative music, which I think we come under the bracket of, is that it’s a bit more precious than that, it’s a bit more sincere, and it’s got authenticity, and it comes from the heart, and I’m not going to sing any lyrics that I don’t believe in just to become rich and famous, because rock and roll isn’t about being rich and famous. Somewhere along the line, maybe like, in the 70s, people’s idea of rock and roll became about excess and drugs and drink and all that sort of stuff, which is fine, but rock and roll really is about the 1960s, 1950s, people getting sweaty in clubs and jumping around and having a good time, and thinking, not about what’s happening today or tomorrow, it’s more about what’s in that moment, who’s on the stage and who’s in the crowd. That’s what rock and roll’s about. Rant over! Mic drop!

So people should come and see you on tour for that reason!?

Yeah! Like now, I think everyone’s very focused on the past and the future, and it’s not good for your mental health. There’s something to be said about living in the moment, which is quite a hard thing to do the older that you get, and at a gig, whether you’re watching a show or you’re on the stage, you’re just thinking about what’s happening at that moment, and there’s not many times you can really do that, unless you’re f***ing meditating in Tibet or something like that! Being at a gig is all about being in the moment, and not thinking about, and not worrying about, and not having anxiety about anything else. At rock and roll shows that’s what it’s all about. All live music, all entertainment, that’s what it’s all about. So yeah, if that’s the vibe that people get from our shows then we’re definitely doing it right.

Well we’re really excited for you guys to come to Liverpool!

Yeah, I was just looking at the poster for the tour and Liverpool’s sold out! We’ve played Liverpool only a couple of times compared to other cities, I think this is going to be our second show in Liverpool. We’ve played this festival called FestEvol, at like two in the morning in the summer, we’ve played The Shipping Forecast with our friends in a band called Palace, and I’m pretty sure those are the only times we’ve played in Liverpool. Oh, no actually we’ve played Zanzibar, with The Strypes on the NME Topman tour. Oh, okay, so we’ve played there three times. We’re super excited to come back and play our own show for once, see how it goes. I think Liverpool’s just generally a cool city, with what we’ve seen when we’ve had a walk around and stuff. It seems like the further you get away from London, Manchester and Liverpool and maybe like Sheffield, they’re all quite self-sufficient in terms of scenes. They’re very creative places, which is cool, because we’re from Reading, which is a commuter town outside of London, and everything here is London-centric – if you want to go to a good gig you just hop on a train to London, so it’s nice to come out and see towns and cities like Liverpool, Manchester and all that lot, that have their own identity, because Reading definitely doesn’t, that’s for sure!

If you could be an animal, what animal would you be?

This isn’t even a question I have to think about, straight up- tiger. I’m obsessed with tigers. I follow five or six Instagram tigers, I sponsor a tiger, I love tigers, man. I love them. They’re the most beautiful creatures, and they’re going extinct, which is awful. It blows my mind that there’s 7 billion humans in the world, and then tigers and elephants and stuff are literally in their thousands. There’s only like, 6 thousand tigers left or something like that. I sponsor this other one, through WWF, there’s a certain type of leopard, that lives on the outskirts of Russia and stuff, and it’s called the Amur leopard, and there’s 70. F***ing 70! We’ve played bigger shows than 70! It’s ridiculous! You’ve probably got 70 friends and family, and that’s how many there are of this certain type of leopard. So yeah, I like big cats. I love them, I don’t know why, I just think they’re majestic creatures. I think the natural world is so interesting. It’s like my thing – some people are into trainspotting and I’m into tigers. And then maybe close second would be like, a fox, and then third after that would be orangutan.

That’s the most definite answer I’ve ever had! Most people are just sort of like ‘don’t know really, might be a dog, not really thought about it!’

Boring! No, I’ve thought about this a lot, we have a lot of hours in the van so we talk a lot of shit, and this comes up a lot! They’re all ginger animals as well, because I’ve got red hair. What animal would you be?

Like, a dolphin?

So you’d keep your intelligence, because they’re super intelligent animals. They’re cool.

The Amazons’ newest single ‘Black Magic’ is out now and available to buy here. You’re also probably going to end up seeing Matt take over from David Attenborough on Planet Earth some time soon.

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